Team creating 2018 Journey to Excellence scorecards wants your brightest ideas

If you have a Fitbit, Garmin wearable or Apple Watch, you know that real-time tracking of your day’s movement can make you healthier and more active.

Think of the Journey to Excellence scorecard as an activity tracker for your Scout unit. Journey to Excellence, or JTE, gives you feedback on your Scout unit’s progress during the entire Scouting year.

Like a gourmet chef tweaking a signature recipe, the team behind JTE constantly improves requirements and scorecards to make them even more useful.

But they want your help.

Right now they’re working on the 2018 Journey to Excellence scorecards, which take effect on Jan. 1, 2018. Your guidance and feedback is welcome. Leave a comment below or email your suggestions to jte@scouting.org.

Wait … what’s JTE again?

JTE is the BSA’s tool for helping leaders plan their program, monitor progress and assess their Scouting success. There are separate scoresheets for packs, troops, teams, crews, posts, ships, districts and councils. You can access the 2017 scorecards here.

For more on what Journey to Excellence is and why should you care, read my Scouting 101 post. Here are some basic reminders.

Units are evaluated in four areas:

  • Planning and budget
  • Membership
  • Program
  • Leadership

Units score points in those areas; the sum of those points determines bronze, silver or gold status. Bronze is “effective,” silver is “excellent” and gold is “exceptional.”

The scoring ensures no one area is mandatory. Scouting success takes many forms, and JTE success employs a “balanced scorecard” as a result. The standards enable both large Scout units and small ones to succeed — as long as they provide good Scouting to youth.

Units that achieve JTE bronze, silver or gold can earn a ribbon for their unit flag, a plaque and a patch for their uniform.

How are JTE standards determined and revised?

Each June, leaders from all over the country meet to consider performance by units, districts and councils and recommendations for improvement. They look at performance during the year; analyze suggestions, questions and problems submitted during the year; and decide which requirements to change, if any.

Each year’s standards take effect on Jan. 1.

Any Scout leader, member or parent with a suggestion for improving the JTE scorecards should leave a comment below or send it to jte@scouting.org.

What’s new with JTE?

  • One key improvement for the 2017 JTE scorecards came from a Bryan on Scouting reader. Now, at any time, unit Key 3 and Key 3 delegate leaders can download all JTE values that are tracked nationally. Just to go my.scouting.org and click “JTE reports.” This report is updated daily.
  • Another improvement: There’s a new orientation video to help leaders use JTE to plan their annual program. Go to my.scouting.org, then click on “BSA Learn Center.”
  • The JTE team hopes to have JTE incorporated into Scoutbook by the end of 2017. This will help units plan and then track their program and their Scout’s progress throughout the year

Story idea via Neil Lupton, chairman of the national Journey to Excellence task force.

70 Comments

  1. I’ll try to compose some specifics with regard to our unit’s experience,

    But I’ll leave my one pet peeve here: in boy scouts, the highest performers earn sliver. Gold ranks behind that, then bronze.
    Make JTE titles match *real* scouting awards, and maybe one or two stubborn old scouters might consider it worth the paperwork to pursue.

    • As we talk about pet peeves: my pet peeve is people that use the term “gold” when it has always been “Brass” ( as in top brass ) Silver is the higher military rank insignia and brass is the junior rank. The confusion is that highly polished brass glistens with the Hollywood gold look as see in movies.

      Gold, Silver, Bronze Awards have nothing to do with rank insignia and are as compatible as apples and pineapples.

      Semper Fi

      • Good point, Keith. So maybe I’m confusing apples and oranges. But it still makes me bananas!
        I guess I balk the whole feeling of this being something akin to a footrace!
        In my mind JTE is more like a uniform inspection, but the challenge of an inspection sheet is harder because we allow troops to be so diverse.
        See Dan’s comment below about “meets” or “exceeds” expectations.

  2. Silver being higher than gold comes from the US military officer rank insignia, where silver bars & leaves represent a higher rank than the corresponding gold bar/leaf. BSA objects to other military similarities (like calling the full uniform “Class A”), and most people don’t know the military ranks anyway. Most people are familiar with the Olympic award system, where gold is tops, then silver, then bronze. And most of us have heard expressions like “gold standard”, and the fact that actual gold is much more expensive than the same amount of actual silver. So ‘bah, humbug’ to the silver standard, and let’s ‘go for the gold’.

  3. Too much importance is lent to “plans”, “intention”, “Bling accumulation”.
    “A Scout Is Trustworthy”. What has the Unit DONE? FOR THE SCOUT ???
    BOY SCOUTS:
    **Points for “Patrol activity” Meetings? Hikes? Patrol parties? Group stuff? Overnights?
    **Points for “Troop activity” Attend Camporees? Overnights? Service to CO?
    Service to Community ( NOT Eagle project)? Special activities (help with Cub Scout Day Camp, parades, etc.
    ** OA election? OA participation?
    **RoundTable Attendance? (is there a RoundTable in their District?)
    ** Recruitment? What exactly (especially !) has been DONE for “public awareness” of the Scout Unit?
    CUB SCOUTS: Adjust from the above:
    **Points for DEN activity: Meetings? “Go See”, Hikes, “lock ins”, museum visits, Zoo visits,
    **Points for PACK activity: Attendance at Cub Scout Day Camp, overnights (BALLO training? ), RoundTable attendance, hikes, Cub and One , etc.
    IN ADDITION: Points for Leader Training: All Leaders with “Complete, required training done” (list them!) Extra points for WoodBadge, Red Cross First Aid, PowderHorn, NAYLE, etc.

    It is nice to have Unit think about improvement (“we will increase membership by 12%”) and try to judge itself thereby (“We increased membership by 13%”) but what has the Unit actually DONE ? FOR THE CUSTOMER?SCOUT ??

    • AWESOME points!! I love them all, especially the coming to R.T part (sorry, as an ADC(RT), that one is near and dear to my heart :-)!! I would also add one more to the list howsomever, “Meeting your FOS goal” We all know we can’t grow Scouting without the funds to do so… and since both District and Councils have JTE goals of finance, how about the units that help them meet those goals????

      Y.I.S.

    • Hello James,
      Thank you so much for your suggestions. One of the challenges we face is the feedback from our Units suggesting “Make JTE Simpler!” “JTE is too complicated!” “There are too many items!” and also “Record keeping is too much work!” As the article mentioned, we hope to incorporate JTE into Scoutbook which would allow units automatically to keep track as they plan and record activities. Still, it will only work if units actually use Scoutbook and enter the information. We understand units actually entering information been a problem with Scoutbook.
      JTE does not try to document everything that a unit might do. Rather, we hope that it identifies key factors that correlate with and represent good Scouting. Then, if a unit plans to have a good year incorporating those factors and actually does it, they will be providing great Scouting for their members.
      We don’t dream that we can dictate units how to plan and carry out their program. Scouting is local and each unit is, and should be, different. We hope that JTE is broad enough to encompass all the ways that a unit can provide great Scouting.

    • Ratio of trained adults to youth. We don’t want Units to feel it is a good idea to only register the bare minimum number of adults – we want all involved adults to be actually registered, and we want plenty of adults to be involved.

      Also – Internet Recharter should generate the JTE form. It would be an extra step for recharter, but most of the information is already in my.Scouting.org or ScoutNET, so it would just be handing the volunteer the answer (with an explanation of how that answer was arrived at – and with space for the unit to say “We forgot to report this!” and update the input. (Although, encouraging prompt reporting is a good idea. (If the JTE form comes in with recharter, it is more likely to actually come in, and not get forgotten.)

      • Hear! Hear! Re: Internet Recharter. Absolutely! The JTE is already like doing my taxes. (actually, JTE took a lot longer. I filed a 1040EZ this year.) You all (National) already have all my joined, dropped, retention%, awards information. For heaven’s sake, it’d be easier for you to fill out the form. If nothing else, PLEASE return to turning the form in with my recharter, not on Dec 31st. I don’t have #s until recharter time. Extremely painful to try to dig all those numbers out if I’m not already waist deep in them (with recharter).
        Then, after you remove/simplify all the retention numbers, you can add the stuff James Lehman talks about. We are here for the boys. JTE should at least give a nod to that!

      • When my.scouting.org consistently works then it would be possible to tie recharter to JTE. Far too many times my.scouting.org is down, inaccessible, or information is not there. We have real issues with inaccurate records in our council despite repeated efforts to “correct the record”. Input data and it automatically drops, i.e. having to put in advancement reports for a scout multiple times and not have them save. Go automated and set up units for failure.

  4. I’d sure like to see the name “Journey to Excellence” changed back to “Quality Unit”, which is a much clearer name. And it’s not about the journey: your unit either provides a quality program or it doesn’t. Let’s also drop the three levels of “excellence”. Again, you either provide a quality program or you don’t. Finally, stop changing the standards every year. How do we compare performance year by year when the standards keep changing?

    • The problem with the Quality Unit was units could set their own criteria. A unit could set the goal to have 10% of their leaders trained, if they achieved it, they were considered a “Quality Unit”

      As for changing the criteria each year, I don’t have a problem when they make the criteria higher. The purpose is to improve the program the units provide. I don’t like it when they lower the standard.

  5. The primary problem is stated in bold letters right up there in the blog post: “Wait … what’s JTE again?” We’re what, five years into Journey to Excellence, and it is a great template for unit success, but a lot of folks still don’t know what it is because they aren’t using it in their annual unit planning or monthly unit committee meetings. It is treated like a participation award, not a planning tool. Every year-end it is the same paper chase, with District Executives, Committee Chairs, and Commissioners calling units and pleading for them to fill out and turn in their scorecards.

    These suggestions go beyond tweaking the scorecards:

    – Recognize units whenever they complete a JTE objective. Leaders like to brag about their units, and they like to be called up to the front at Roundtable to get awards. This will encourage JTE tracking all year.
    – Put a lot less emphasis on the JTE scorecard and a lot more emphasis on the four-part unit planning “pillars” (Planning and budget; Membership; Program; and Leadership) that underlies JTE. Give it a “shorthand” acronym like EDGE and LNT (maybe LMPP – pronounced “lamp”) and teach it as the Scouting way for units to plan and operate. Talk about it all the time (like we do with EDGE and LNT).
    – Integrate LMPP into the literature, adult leader training, youth leader training, and even the Eagle Project Workbook.
    – Establish a monthly JTE point of emphasis for each month of the year, and provide some Roundtable programming each month to push those points of emphasis and JTE use.

  6. I would like to see enhanced program and rank advancement items, and more unit service hours required for ALL metallic levels.

    • We will consider this suggestion, Steve. Every year, we look at what has actually been achieved and adjust the standards based on the improvements actually being seen in the field. Scoutbook should help this.

  7. We need an on-line – easily accessible format that is UP TO DATE and allows you to create reminders (emailed), goals, and it must be mobile friendly. I could go on about this subject for hours, but too much to type here.

    • We totally agree dbeukel1. We hope and believe that incorporating JTE into an enhanced Scoutbook will achieve exactly what you wish.

  8. Consider adding to the Gold criteria in the Volunteer Leadership section of Troop JTE (either to item #11 – Trained leadership: Have trained and engaged leaders at all levels; or maybe to #10: Leadership and family engagement) –

    “Help staff district/council commissioner/committee positions with at least one leader primarily registered in the unit.”

    Since most district/council efforts are expended to help packs and there are more volunteer positions at the district level than at the council level, this would mostly incentivize joining together with other leaders in the troop’s local area to help the units in the same area which, collectively, provide the vast majority of local troops’ future membership.

    It asks troop adults to exemplify a type of citizenship – a key BSA value, “the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a community;” Merrian-Webster on-line dictionary – which will benefit their own unit and others in their area and a broader set of youth.

    In this way, it’s broader than encouraging troops to hold joint activities with one or two packs or to provide a den chief, both of which are parts of Troop JTE item #4 (Webelos-to-Scout transition). Those are highly important unit operational requirements and should be retained. The proposed criterion suggests going beyond what directly benefits the troop and a relatively specific set of boys.

    Integrating district/council volunteerism also encourages a fuller view of scouting, an appreciation of the variety of ways units can operate successfully, and development of people skills – all of which can benefit the home unit – and discourages a “go it alone” mentality, which ultimately can cramp youths’ scouting experience.

  9. I would like to see big points for 100% trained troop leaders and negative points for anything below 100% trained. I would like to see more points for more service hours, Zero points for the minimum, and negative points for below the standard.

    • My troop has 40+ adults registered. You really think I’m going to get all of them to be 100% trained? We have a large troop. Normally around 70 boys. (we’ve had a rash of age-outs and are down in membership at the moment, but we’ll be back to 70 soon.) “Do you really need 40+ adults?” Yes! This is a very active troop. They go, on average, every two weeks. Unless you want three or four adults to get burnt out within a couple months, then YES we need every adult registered! Some camp, some backpack, some lead the Cycling MB, about 10 are on Committee, some only go to Seabase or another high adventure. Each has their own niche, but there is no way I am going to get all of them to take OLS and Position Specific training. We have several who have taken Woodbadge, and I think our trained ratio is good. But 100% of anything is near to impossible with a group this large. Remember, we’re volunteers. Our day jobs get in the way of our Scouting, but they do bring in the money so we CAN go Scouting!

  10. To the council level award: If you want Venturing, Sea Scouting, and Exploring to grow, then they need to be measured the same way Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts are measured on items like JTE and on the monthly KPI reports. Humans naturally put effort into items that are measured. By not measuring each program equally, it makes it hard to spend focus time on those items. The Senior Scouting programs have a huge market available to them to grow membership numbers, they just need the focus of measuring results.

    To the Venturing unit level: Go with more activity based points as most units don’t work on the Awards program. The youth are in the program for the fun and the leadership skills that come with it, not so much the bling of awards.

  11. One key improvement for the 2017 JTE scorecards came from a Bryan on Scouting reader. Now, at any time, unit Key 3 and Key 3 delegate leaders can download all JTE values that are tracked nationally. Just to go my.scouting.org and click “JTE reports.” This report is updated daily.

    Only thing I see is the 2016 Finish Line Report for the Unit. If it is updated daily should we be on 2017?

    We need reports on the unit level that fall in line with the Council/District reports.

    We also need a way that these reports were data is captured without having to make separate entries.

    I was actual disappointed that BSA did away with the Tour Plans, if BSA had units complete them for every outing then that would have provided a clear data source for tracking the number of outings a unit is actually conducting. That was a missed opportunity.

  12. I’ll say the same thing I did last year for the troop scorecard. Combine items 2 and 4 into one item. Item 2 provides points for growing the troop, and Item 4 relates to webelos recruitment. If you are recruiting webelos, aren’t you growing your troop?

    Other than that, I think it is a good tool. I do not think there needs to be any more categories – the more complex you make this, the less troops will use it.

  13. The JTE team hopes to have JTE incorporated into Scoutbook by the end of 2017. This will help units plan and then track their program and their Scout’s progress throughout the year

    Pushing units to use Scoutbook might be a good plan on paper, but until Scoutbook is set up to handle financial management like other third party software, you will be hard pressed to get some units to transition to it. Also another issue with moving to Scoutbook is that Scoutbook does not provide a front page/webpage for units. It is hard for people looking to join a unit to find one if units don’t have a webpage that people can easily find.

    • Hello Gilsonh,
      If you (or anyone) has suggestions on how to improve Scoutbook, please send them also to jte@scouting.org. We’ll share them with the Scoutbook team. Please don’t just make the suggestion, but tell also what the problem is and your suggested solution. That way, if the Scoutbook team can’t use your specific solution, maybe they can find another way to address the problem.

    • There are solutions for both finance and web hosting that do not require BSA to recreate the wheel. If we have BSA build in features that are easily available from other sources at low to no cost, then the limited resources are stretched even thinner, and the more SB will cost.

      Let Scoutbook be what it is Advancement tracking. Use Excel or the numerous free web based or software accounting programs. Today there are even accountig apps for smart phones. No need for BSA to waste time and money to do this.

      Same with web pages. WordPress is simple and can incorporate Scoutbook in a frame.

      “The jack of all trades is the master of none.” Scoutbook is for advaancement. let it build that.

  14. As a unit commissioner and following the parameters of JTE and the commissioners reporting tools, I have found that the actual health of a unit is poorly represented.
    I recently had a JTE Gold unit disband because of lack of recruiting. In every other category they have hit the gold level for several years.

    The first issue I see is that you can earn 1500 points in 8 requirements and score 0 in the membership category. This gives a troop a gold JTE, when it should be sending up red flags, alarms and everything else.

    The Second issue I see, are units “studying for the test” instead of doing their best. Strategically, taking a lower score in one area so they can concentrate on higher point categories as they cram at the end of the year. Goals timed throughout the year would have a better effect. One unit had 5 outings in the last three months to get to 9 short term outings. I would like to see the requirement be “have a short term outing in 9 months of the year”

    • I find it amazing to hear that units are ‘gaming’ the system to maximize their JTE score. In our areas it seems to be difficult to get units to just complete the scorecard, let along take enough time to figure out what shortcuts they need to take to get a higher score!

      • There is a lot of recruiting competition in my district. We have a district meet and greet where families get info on the scout units. JTE award level is touted as a validation of the troops’ program. Non gold award level troops struggle to recruit Webelos as there is an expectation among the packs.

        • Hello Keith,
          If a JTE Gold unit is providing more camping, more advancement, more service, better leader training, better planning than a Silver, Bronze or no-color unit, then it would seem that JTE level is indeed a validation and evaluation of the Troop’s program. The non-Gold units should be able to improve their program to achieve Gold. Helping units to understand what they need to do to improve their program and then motivating them to achieve that improvement is exactly why JTE exists. Alternatively, the non-Gold units might provide unique program like high adventure, special needs Scouting, better youth leadership opportunities, a sponsor with a different focus, etc. and attract youth and families who wish that unique program. But if it’s just “Troop X provides 9 campouts per year; we provide 5. Come join us.” then that might be a tough sell.

    • Hello Keith,
      We rather anticipate that units will be “studying for the test” to improve their JTE performance. However, we hope and plan that the JTE requirements are such that planning to improve JTE scores requires providing good Scouting for youth. That’s the whole point of JTE.
      So if you have suggestions of how we can do a better job of ensuring that planning to do well in JTE means providing good Scouting, we’d very much like to have those suggestions. We want to make sure that if someone is trying to “game the system”, the simplest and easiest way to do that is to provide good Scouting.
      One challenge is that we do know how to put more checks and balances into JTE but then we get the comments about “Too complicated! Make it simpler!” Plus there’s no way that any broad scale system can cover every circumstances and every exception.
      In the circumstances you mention: First the disbanded Gold unit, if they are doing a great job of advancement, camping, service, training, etc. but are not recruiting, then that would seem to be an area of concern for local Commissioners and District leaders. Or to put it another way, if there were some kind of check point that would reduce that unit to Silver or Bronze in JTE, I’m not sure that would change their behavior and motivate them to recruit. When I’ve seen units like that, it often is a group of older Boy Scout or Cub Scout youth and their families. They’re providing a great experience for their children, but they’re not committed to continuing the unit and providing Scouting once their children age out. So they have no interest in recruiting the next generation of youth to keep the unit going.
      As far as the unit with 5 outings in the last 3 months, I’m a bit confused. Are you saying that providing more campouts is bad or is some kind of problem? If they aren’t sham or fake campouts, then it seems that trying to improve their JTE score is motivating the unit to provide more camping experiences for Scouts and to take more Scouts into the outdoors more often. Isn’t that what we want to do? Maybe it’s “better” to have one per month but any campout would seem a very good thing. Sort of the way that a lot of merit badges get earned and Eagle projects get done at the last minute. Is it better not to have those merit badges get earned and Eagle projects not get done?

      • Neil, I am not sure how to interpret your response. Your analogy of the Scout flies in the face of what should be accepted as “excellence” for a unit under JTE. You seem out of touch with the context of the discussion and have latched onto theoretical ideas instead of practical applications.

        A unit that ignores their annual plan and doesn’t hold but 4 short term outings ( one of which is Camporee) over 9 months, then crams 5 outings in at the end of the year is inconsiderate of peoples time and money during the holiday season, is taking whatever camping facilities are available as opposed to being able to seek out quality outings, and is teaching procrastination. This should be rewarded as “excellence”?

  15. JTE is a great metric for a lot of reasons. However, what I enjoy seeing as a District Commissioner is the Frontline JTE in my.scouting.org. That gives you a lot of data that I asked for from my DE over the years. Yes, I am a data nerd and it does help. Getting that data to the Unit is good since they can then see what is happening. Not everyone in the unit really knows how many kids and adults are in the unit. There are usually two to three people you really know, but then they have rough estimates.

    So, rolling that info into Scoutbook and my.scouting.org so Commissioners can see will be great.

    Changing the requirements for JTE are good, since things change overtime. Remember, this data is there for others in the District, Council and National to see what trends are happening. Another tool to help ensure that strong units can be rescued and weak ones bolstered up with support so they do not fail.

  16. How about giving bonus points to units that send youth to NYLT and adults to Woodbadge? I know of a few units that require it of their top leaders (youth and adult) but it’s not required by the council.

  17. Scoutbook.com should be included for all scouts and units with their recharger fees. If all units and scouts utilize scoutbook.com, there is a ton of data to mine.

  18. Metrics always have pros and cons. I personally am always suspicious of metrics. For the better organized units they probably will use JTE correctly and even set improvement goals. However, there are many units that are really making an effort with the boys but maybe just not the way prescribed by JTE and they never will. You can expect a lot of pencil whipping in those less than perfect units for the JTE scorecard. I am going to admit that my unit is less than perfect and it drives me crazy. However, last year at Philmont I was extremely surprised to meet up with many other units that operated exactly the way our unit does. So I don’t know. Maybe these scores are meaningless. JTE is one way of doing it but not the only way.

  19. I’d like to see the Planning and Budgeting section focus on internal controls. Key control is that the Treasurer should not be allowed to make payments without authorization from another leader (Committee Chair or Scoutmaster in our troop). Whatever approval system is used should be documented.

  20. There is enough emphasis on adult training, what about youth leadership training? There are plenty of troops that completely neglect it. Why not give points for having in troop ITLS training as part of the yearly program? Also, give points for having boys attend NYLT.

  21. I submitted input last January but have not received any response. Maybe it is in the pile for consideration.

    • I’m sorry if we didn’t respond, Matt. It probably is on the list for reconsideration, but please submit again to make sure.

  22. Don’t look at JTE as something you cram for – make it something you plan for.

    I see JTE as a planning tool. As a leader who participates in the planning process each year for the Troop were I serve as a Committee Chair. I come to the annual planning meeting with the JTE Criteria in hand. With the Troop, the Patrol Leader’s Council (PLC) is in charge of coming up with the annual plan. Our plan needs to support our efforts to be a Gold level unit. Before the Annual Planning Meeting, the PLC is given targets based on JTE. For our 2017:

    1. Do we have a recruitment activity
    2. Do we have at least two joint activities that involves the Webelos from our feeder pack?
    3. Do we have at least nine short-term overnight campouts?
    4. Do we have at least five service projects planned?
    5. Do we have at least one long-term camping opportunity?
    6. Do we have at least ten PLC meetings planned?
    7. Do we have the dates on our calendar for NYLT and OA Conferences?
    8. Do we have at least three Courts of Honor planned?

    These are all key factors that will be evaluated in determining if their plan is accepted or if they are tasked to go back and re-evaluate their plan.

    This doesn’t guarantee Gold Level performance. There are still other things that must be done as a unit, but these are what I consider the basic building blocks to delivering an annual plan that supports us in delivering a quality program to the scouts that we serve.

    • HGilson,

      Thank you for your comments on JTE and the description of how you use it with your unit. It is an excellent planning tool as you have indicated. As a former Cubmaster and Scoutmaster who used the old Quality Unit system in the 1990’s I find Journey to Excellence, JTE, to be a significant improvement.

      All scout unit leadership should be asking “how is my unit doing? Is the time I am spending wth the youth and this unit worth my while?” JTE provides a snapshot of important aspects of a unit’s operation and an overall indication of unit health and operation, It points the way to improvement and shows the adult leadership where the effort has been successful and where additional effort, if desired, can be used. It gives a unit’s good friend and mentor, the Unit Commissioner, an introduction of how to help, if needed, during a Detailed Assessment with the Unit Key Three (yes, please involve the COR).

      It also provides an avenue to recruit and involve more adults who can provide leadership for those aspects identified as JTE objectives. Parents want their child’s involvement in scouting to be productive and useful. Parents can be asked to help meet unit goals for individual objectives. The Scouter’s Training Award criteria recognizes this. Use JTE objectives to gain involvement of more adults. Having the adult leadership aligned with JTE objectives, having adults responsible to assist the youth, where needed and appropriate, having those JTE objectives regularly reviewed by the Unit Key Three and unit committee will assist in creating the scouting community the Chartered Organization desires for its youth service programs.

      There are two very valuable planning tools that units can use to accomplish the above and are available on the “JTE Resources” Webpage. These are the “Spreadsheets” and “Guidebooks” and are in the same section as the “Scorecards”. The spreadsheets are just that, spreadsheets that have the objectives built in with measures. As a planning tool the unit committee selects or checks off what is planned and the objective measure or score is shown. Using this as the year goes on in the regular reviews will show progress is being made, or not, against the overall approved goal. The Guidebooks show how to use the spreadsheets coupled with responsible adult leaders working towards the Scouter’s Training Award as a planning tool.

      For those new to JTE the Guidebooks provide background and education many of us gained through use of the old Honor Patrol system up through the Centennial Quality Unit recognitions. The Boy Scouts have been using Total Quality based systems for a long time. JTE is a good application of TQ principles and absolutely helps a unit deliver agains the Three Aims of Scouting.

      My suggestion for a change, since that was the primary question posed by Bryan, would be to add the requirement that a keep it PIN on “Be A Scout” active and up to date. This could be at the Bronze level for Membership Growth.

      Paul Helman
      Golden Empire Council
      Council Past President

      • That is exactly what our Troop Committee Meeting is for. As Committee Chair I adjusted the agenda to address each criteria of JTE.

        Planning & Budget – Our Treasurer has overall responsibility – Scoutmaster oversees the Annual Planning Meeting piece with the SPL facilitating the PLC.

        Membership – we don’t have a Membership Chair so I cover – Building Boy Scouting, Retention, and Webelos to Scout Transition. I am also the Pack Trainer so I have good reach back to the pack.

        Program – The Advancement Chair covers reporting on advancement. We don’t have an Outings Chair so I report status on Short-Term/Long-Term Camping and Service Project. This is just reporting status to the annual plan. The Scoutmaster is responsible for overseeing the Patrol Method.

        Volunteer Leadership – Leadership and Family Engagement – we have the required leadership. The Advancement Chair makes sure we are on plan with Courts of Honor, Troop Plans are reviewed at the end of each Court of Honor. Trained Leadership – our Training Chair reports on any training needs and opportunities.

        Additionally we will also cover things like the Scoutmaster Report ,Quartermaster Report, Fundraising, Old Business, and New Business

        After the Committee Meeting we update the JTE Spreadsheet so that it isn’t a mad rush at the end of the year when we are also taking care of our charter renewal.

        Having a unit’s PIN activated on BeAScout.org needs to be a requirement for Building Scouting. I would like to see the actual location pin actually be marked to reflect each units’ JTE Score. Maybe this would get more units to actually turn their scorecards in.

    • I agree with you about JTE being a planning tool. Since we started using JTE our troop has consistently earned Gold, because of how we use it. Most people do not seem to realize there is a Workbook onthe JTE site, which is an Exel spreadsheet. I download the spreadsheet at the beginning of our recharter year and immediately populate any information I already know for the upcoming year. As we go through the year, I update the document from time to time so that by recharter time, it is complete and all I have to do is print it out.
      When using JTE in this manner, I know what our unit needs to do as far as planning for the upcoming year, i.e., camp outs, Committee Meetings, Recruiting Events, etc. Keeping tabs on this during the year, it immediately becomes apparent where our weaknesses are and where we need to step up our game.
      Using JTE in this manner, there is no reason why every unit cannot earn gold. That being said, it is not about earning gold, but about keeping tabs on your unit’s program, leadership, training, recruitment, etc. Earning gold is just the icing on the cake. JTE makes our unit stay on top of things because we track it throughout the year. We see where we are weak and what we need to work on, but we also see where our strengths lie as well. I have come to love JTE, because it makes it easier for us as a troop to ensure we are doing what we can to keep our unit viable for the years to come, and it only takes me a few minutes, a few times during the year. It is my belief that JTE should NOT be included in the recharter packet for the year ending, but for the year ahead. It becomes a planning tool then, not merely a scorecard.

  23. An easy way to make JTE simpler is to remove the totally unnecessary point system. Instead, just count the number of gold, silver, and bronze objectives that were achieved. For example, assume that there are 11 objectives. Gold: Earn at least bronze in 10 objectives, with at least 6 silver or gold, including at least 3 gold. Silver: Earn at least bronze in 9 objectives, with at least 5 silver or gold. Bronze: Earn at least bronze in 8 objectives. Or something like that.

  24. An alternative way to simplify JTE is to eliminate the point system _and_ replace the three performance levels for each objective with two: “Meets” and “Exceeds.” (Calling the current performance levels “Bronze,” “Silver,” and “Gold” is confusing anyway, because there is no direct correlation between, say, achieving the Silver level in X objectives and earning JTE Silver.) So if you have 11 objectives, JTE Bronze is “Meets” at least 8 out of 11; JTE Silver is Bronze level plus “Exceeds” in at least 5 objectives; and JTE Gold is Silver level plus “Exceeds” in an additional 3 objectives (total of 8 “Exceeds”). Or something like that.

  25. Huzzah to Dan’s suggestion of “meets”,”exceeds” expectations instead of the names of metals! I would also add the zero:, “misses” expectations. We’re scouters, we can stand to hear when our knots ain’t tying right. That way the unit commissioner can ask the troop to pick one from the “missed” category for next year’s challenge goal. (Then, on 2019 you have a category for challenge goals missed, met, or exceeded. Basically overcome a roadblock from one year counts double the next.)

    For troop advancement, instead of a rank per year, I want us to simply tally first-class scouts. All of the PLC achieving first-class would meet expectations. More scouts than that would exceed expectations. I would discourage SMs from dredging a number from scoutbook. I would not be bothered by an SM who believes a boy to be first-class, but has not got the patch yet. In fact I would be fine with an SM who feels he hasn’t met expectations because some boys on the PLC have the oval patch, but really are so rusty with skills, or negligent of their oath, that first class no longer applies to them.

    If a troop has Star, Life, or Eagle scouts, that’s gravy. But IMHO that has everything to do with the excellence of the boys, and nothing to do with the quality of the troop.

    For patrol method. A troop meets expectations if each patrol presented and implemented a plan for hiking and/or camping independently. (Note: by implementing, that includes making decisions to cancel for safety reasons if necessary.) PLC meetings have nothing to do with excellence of a patrol method. They do have something to do with leadership — maybe on the next row, where having a working comittee meets expectations and having a PLC that runs courts of honors and announces troop events exceeds expectations.

  26. I would like to see more on Youth Leadership. Do your Troops have ASPLs, Troop Guides, Scribes, Librarians, Historians, QM’s, Buglers, Chaplain Aides, Instructors, Webmasters, etc? How are they prepared for their positions? Who guides and counsels them? How is their performance evaluated at the end? Is there a Scout in Charge program for events where they work with Adults in Charge?

    I would like to see more on the Methods of Scouting. Some methods are addressed such as Rank Advancement, the Outdoor Program (Short and Long Term Camping anyway), and the Patrol Method but what about the Uniform, Association with Adults (role models who are not the scout’s parents), Youth Leadership (addressed above), the Ideals, and Personal Growth? My understanding is that all 8 Methods are equal, none higher than any other, and that BSA is not a cafeteria organization where boys pick and choose which methods to participate in but that all methods need to be employed. The adult rank zealots and MB accumulators who treat Rank Advancement as a tick box list and who want a full sash at the expense of true youth leadership development, personal growth, and the ideals do more harm than good. The program works, work the program. The ultimate goal is not the Rank of Eagle, but rather that the boy becomes a better person through Scouting.

    What about the Aims of Scouting? Citizenship, Fitness, and Character? I know these are difficult to measure in a quantitative way to produce a score card and a neat numeric score but they are basic to our goal and will keep us centered on what we are trying to do as volunteers. We are not a camping club, rather we are a Leadership, Citizenship, Character Development organization that goes camping.

    Is your unit a Safe Haven? How?

    Oh and can we dispense with the year? Can we simply make the patch gold, silver, or bronze with the option of 100% Boys Life? If the unit earns the same every year, then why new patches?

    • Great comments from Q and Philip Avery about getting back to fundamentals. Yeah, why aren’t JTE objectives directly tied to the Methods? What about Ideals and Uniforms? What does it say about our values and priorities when on the Troop scorecard, advancement is worth 200 points (Gold) but service projects are only worth 100 points (Gold)? And on the Pack scorecard, it is advancement for _300_ points and service projects 100 points.

  27. I think JTE could be made simpler. Send a monthly reminder to each units Key 3 or a designated JTE rep who will then fill out an online form answering questions for each category… for example if this was implemented for this year, I would get an email today reminding me to fill out the questionaire today. I click the link and have a simple survey

    1 How many den meetings did your pack have in May?
    2 How many scouts were active in your pack in May?
    A Did any scouts join during May?
    B Did Any Scouts transfer in During May
    C Did any scouts transfer out in May
    D Did any new scouts join the pack in May?
    E Did any scouts quit during May?
    F Did any scouts age out during May?
    G Did any Webelos cross over to a troop during May?
    4 In May, how many Scouts earned
    A Bobcat
    B Wolf
    C Bear
    D Webelos
    E AoL
    5 Did your pack go camping in May?
    A If Yes how many scouts participated?
    6 Did your pack do a Service Project during the month of May?
    7 Did your pack hold a Committee Meeting during May

    Asking all the questions each month until you max out and this data is automatically complied into a scorecard. This way no one has to remember to update the scorecard, or scramble around at the end of the year to gather the data needed to complete the scorecard.

    • Hello Tom,

      Thank you for your suggestion. Frankly, I like it. I’m not sure that our IT system permits that yet.
      We hope that the integration of JTE into Scoutbook will eliminate even this step which you outline. Rather, when you enter an advancement, or campout, or service project, or leader training into Scoutbook, that will go right into the database and immediately (or at least overnight) be part of JTE tracking. So you won’t need to enter things twice, just once in Scoutbook. And then, whenever you wish, any of the unit leadership can see exactly where the unit stands.

      At least that’s the plan.

  28. Thank yous to “keith,” “gilsonh,” Dan Kurtenback, Adam R. Cox and Paul Helman for great comments!

    To get more troops to view JTE as more than a year-end paper chase (Dan Kurtenback’s point), Webelos den leaders and parents may be the key. Traditionally, lots of Webelos and parents haven’t known a lot about how to “shop and compare” troops when a choice is required (that is, when more than one troop is available, a family doesn’t already have an older sibling in a particular troop, a troop chartered by the same organization as the pack isn’t available or isn’t the default choice for some reason, etc.). The choice always should be made by the scout – but some youth are at least a little familiar with including ratings in their decisions or their parents help them to do so (based on keith’s comment).

    I know of a troop that rather intentionally aims to be Bronze every year, and doesn’t seek a higher rating because it doesn’t “like” doing many of the things that would qualify it for Silver and Gold on particular JTE items. It’s got somewhat of its own brand of scouting as a result, and a few youth are attracted to it every year. As a general rule, though, most youth gravitate toward the things that produce Silver and Gold assessments and the units that put them in their plans.

    Once Webelos den leaders and parents accept annual JTE results (the award level and the category-by-category achievements) as ways to help their boys compare troops – as sort of a “Consumer Reports” of nearby troops – the vast majority of Scoutmasters, Troop Committee Chairs and other troop adults who have not embraced JTE to date will respond, especially once data collection has been made more or less automatic and current, as the JTE/ScoutBook teams seem intent on.

    JTE Team: To help along the process of completing acceptance of JTE in the short run, please consider making year-end troop JTE Finish Line Reports available to Webelos/AOL den leaders and Pack Key 3s through my.scouting for 2016 and 2017. Also, please consider make contemporaneous JTE Finish Line data available to everyone within a unit through my.scouting – all adults and, in troops, all scouts – and to Commissioners, so everyone can track progress. When only two or three people know a troop’s progress from month to month, or have rough estimates, as Adam R. Cox wrote, and there’s no outside interest, it’s easy for the Key 3 to forget about or dismiss JTE’s usefulness or “pencil whip” the year-end report, as Mike T said. It’s also easy for record keeping issues to develop and not get corrected. I can’t think of a good reason why how a unit is doing during the year should be restricted to the Key 3 and delegates.

    “What gets measured gets improved” (Peter Drucker) – if anybody who cares is watching. People care when they realize JTE measures how much real Scouting a unit is doing.

    There’s no doubt that real Scouting does build character, citizenship and fitness. (Check out the Tutfs University cub scouting study at http://www.tuftscampstudy.com/resources.) I don’t know that partial or off-brand Scouting produces comparable youth development. Sports and other great activities (while fun and not negative), don’t. Knowing what I know now, if I were a parent of a cub or boy scout age youth today, I’d suggest he choose between a JTE Gold unit for his Pack and especially his Troop.

  29. On the IT side, a JTE icon specific to the troop (perhaps with their unit number and score) could be stored in scouting.org. Units could then link to that icon on their websites.

    That would, however, require BSA’s ITG involving every willing scouter to work on an open source development platform. They aren’t there yet.

  30. For crew JTE, youth leadership should only consider themselves as having met expectations if they send a representative to their council Venturing Officers Association.

  31. Just a note about the big picture. With all of the angst about BSA membership decline and its causes, it often seems that we forget that regardless of social and cultural changes, all BSA recruitment and retention is local. A Scout unit with well-trained leaders and a high quality program will _always_ attract and keep members. The future of the Boy Scouts of America is not secured by program variety or broader membership options, but by well-run units that deliver great programs week in and week out. JTE, whatever we may think about the details of the scorecards, does something that we have needed for a long time: It sets standards for what every unit in every program should be doing to carry out its purpose. I think experience has shown that soft-selling unit JTE as a planning tool and end-of-year award thingy is not getting the point across: units _need_ to be hitting these marks for the benefit of their members, and BSA _needs_ units to be hitting those marks for the long-term benefit of the organization.

  32. I think there should be metrics in there for the troops as to whether you are delivering the program as intended, and are you doing all you can to make your troop the best it can be:

    Are you following the Patrol Method?
    Who runs your PLC meetings–the Scouts or the adults? Are you even having PLC meetings?
    Who runs your annual planning conference–the Scouts or the adults?
    Are your Scoutmaster Conferences retests or conversations?
    Do members of your troop regularly attend Roundtable?
    Do members of your troop attend your council’s University of Scouting?
    Does your troop offer a long-term camping opportunity every year (summer camp or something similar)?
    Do you send Scouts to NYLT every year?
    Is your Troop partnered with a Cub Scout Pack (or many Cub Scout Packs) in offering Den Chiefs and a Webelos-to-Scout Transition program?
    Who plans and runs your campouts–the Scouts or the adults?
    Do you have the latest copy of your council/district’s Merit Badge Counselor list?

    These should be the areas of focus: are you providing the program that you signed up for? If you do that, then you truly are a Quality Unit.

    • Asst SM:

      Are you following the Patrol Method? – Criteria # Patrol Method

      Who runs your PLC meetings–the Scouts or the adults? Are you even having PLC meetings? Again Criteria #9 – I have found over my experience the PLC goes through times where they are very Scout-led to times where they need a little guidance from the adult leaders. Scouts don’t always know how to lead. That is the adult leaders responsibility to help coach and guide them and develop those leadership skills.

      Who runs your annual planning conference–the Scouts or the adults? – Criteria #1 Planning and Budget – although I would suggest the verbiage for the Gold Level be changed from “involving youth leaders” to “led by youth leaders”

      Are your Scoutmaster Conferences retests or conversations? – Not a JTE Criteria, but Scoutmasters who are trained should know how to conduct a Scoutmaster Conference. If a Scoutmaster is retesting Scouts, then the Committee Chair should approaching them to coach them into following the program.

      Do members of your troop regularly attend Roundtable? – As a District Commissioner, I would love to see this as an add on to Criteria #11 – Trained Leadership

      Do members of your troop attend your council’s University of Scouting? – I don’t believe all Councils have University of Scouting Programs. I was in a smaller Council that held Pow Wows.

      Does your troop offer a long-term camping opportunity every year (summer camp or something similar)? – Criteria #7 Long-term Camping

      Do you send Scouts to NYLT every year? – Criteria # Patrol Method

      Is your Troop partnered with a Cub Scout Pack (or many Cub Scout Packs) in offering Den Chiefs and a Webelos-to-Scout Transition program? – Criteria #4 Webelos-to-Scout Transition

      Who plans and runs your campouts–the Scouts or the adults? – Would suggest adding wording to Criteria #6 – Short-term camping.

      Do you have the latest copy of your council/district’s Merit Badge Counselor list? – Yes this is an important tool for a Scoutmaster since it is their job to recommend counselors, but I think the requirement would be better placed on the Councils themselves. The Councils need to do a better job compiling, updating, and disseminating the list to Troop Leaders. For my council a leader needs to specifically request the list. When they get the list it is an old antiquated .pdf report by Counselor’s name vs. by Merit Badge.

      As I was told in an earlier thread, suggestions on how to improve Scoutbook, please send them also to jte@scouting.org

      • I agree that many of these items are in the current JTE objectives, but it’s all in the execution.

        You may have patrols, but not employ the patrol method. When I took IOLS training, there was a discussion amongst the other SM/ASMs there about the Patrol Method. More than half said that while they do have patrols, because it’s required for rank and when they go to events like camporees, etc., they do not actively use the patrol method.

        PLC meetings–while it’s true that the adults should absolutely be there to guide and help them develop leadership skills, far too often it’s the adults that do all the planning, and the youth leadership are nothing more than yes men.

      • Regarding SM conferences, I just attended my council’s UoS and there was a class on SM conferences. More than half the people there said they were there to learn how to properly do a Scoutmaster Conference, since so many of them in their troops now are retests and not actual conversations, and what ammo they could get to talk to the SM and CC about how they are to be properly conducted. At one point, the discussion turned into “who has the worst SM Conferences?”

        One ASM said that the SM of his troop brings a bucket of rope into First Class conferences, and he won’t “pass” a Scout who can’t tie all the knots. The moderator’s troop’s First Class conferences used to run 2 1/2 hours under the previous SM until he became the SM and convinced the CC that that isn’t how you are supposed to do SM conferences. Yet another one told a story of how one Scout in his troop “failed” his Scoutmaster conferences for six weeks straight because he couldn’t remember every detail that the Scoutmaster asked him to do.

        It goes towards BORs as well. Ask around how many troops do some sort of retest in their BORs.

        I’ve talked to SMs and CCs about how you’re not permitted to do those things and have been told, “well, that’s how we do it here, and if they don’t like it they can always find another troop.”

    • Hello Asst. SM,
      You certainly have identified many items that can be used by a unit in assessing whether they are doing the best possible job in delivering the Scout program. A couple of challenges as far as incorporating this into JTE — the first challenge is that this would involve adding a number of new criteria and, as I’ve mentioned, the guidance and requests we receive are pretty generally to make it simpler and, if anything, to have fewer criteria. The second challenge is in assessing some of the criteria you suggested. Who would do the assessing? Particularly thinking about your suggestions on the annual planning conference and the SM Conferences. It’s great to have the unit doing the assessment but there’s reluctance to have judgement items in the formal JTE assessment. It’s pretty straightforward to decide if a campout did or did not happen, or if a Scout did or did not advance. Deciding if SM conferences are retests or conversations is very hard to reduce to a yes/no or percentage achievement standard.

      • I agree that some of these are wishful thoughts that no annual check-list is going to fix. Our best hope is that adults get trained and keep going to round-tables. To me, that’s the linchpin of adult association.
        Of what I read so far, categories that hew closely to the methods are the most inspirational. That may mean ditching some of the mindless number-cruching. Recruitment and retention were always crude thermometers. Gains – losses is either negative, neutral, or positive.

        If there were a metric for troops that I think would challenge is all, it would be number of boys reaching the pinnacle scouting experience of hiking and camping independently with their mates. The troop who has the most of that is likely hitting on all cylinders.

    • your comment assumes that districts have round tables, that merit badge counselor lists are maintained (we simply cannot get our council to enter & record the data that we submit). There must be a huge pile of applications on someone’s desk. That is very problematic since there are birthdates, names, addresses, and social security numbers on the apps that just disappear. You also assume that the Cub Scout packs are successfully running Webelos program, some don’t and I have my hands full helping Scouts run a Troop, so if the pack does not place importance on Webelos transition then how do I partner? JTE MUST address those items a unit can control, not those that it can’t.

  33. My complaint is at the District and Council level. The only place STEM Scouts, Venturing, Sea Scouts, and Explorers count is in membership and unit numbers. Things need to be added which would encourage Districts and Councils to support and encourage these programs. For example in Venturing count Tier II and Tier III activity attendance. Recognize districts for having at least one Venturing unit. Recognize districts who have a functioning VOA (Venturing Officers Association). Recognize Councils who have a functioning council VOA and district VOAs. Recognize districts and councils who have VOA run activities. Similar criteria could be added for the other three programs.

  34. For item #10 on the Pack Scorecard – the existence of both a Cubmaster and Assistant Cubmaster is necessary to achieve ANY points. While I agree having a registered Cubmaster should be necessary to achieve any points in this category, sometimes having both isn’t an option. But having every other part of that section met should be worthy of some consideration. (Checking that assistant box jumps our Pack from no points to gold status – we’re doing everything else but just didn’t have that last piece. There should be some middle ground.)
    We live in a community with exceptionally high turnover rates for everyone – scouts/leaders/committee members. We will never have a person around for more than 4-ish years. Sometimes we only get them for 6 months. So many of the suggestions I see above would penalize our community for things that we can’t control. I can’t invent people to come in and replace those who’ve left – and sometimes recruitment takes more than a week or two. Don’t penalize us for doing everything else correctly.
    Also, there are Scouting communities out there, like ours, where attending things like Woodbadge/NYLT/etc. doesn’t just require drive and commitment but thousands of dollars for plane tickets and travel expenses. Our Pack will never send anyone to Woodbadge because we’ll never have an extra $2-$3k lying around to do that. We are legally only allowed to have one fundraiser a year. Earning that much extra is a fool’s errand. I encourage everyone to keep in mind that these are national scorecards. What might be possible for your area may be nearly impossible for another. That doesn’t mean our program isn’t vibrant- it just means that our goals look different than yours.

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